Alternative medicine provides some potential treatments for high blood pressure including relaxation techniques, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies. Although some approaches of holistic medicine lack further studies, others are proven safe and effective in treating hypertension. High blood pressure or hypertension is usually called the silent killer because many people do not exhibit symptoms despite getting dangerously high blood pressure readings. In most cases, the causes of hypertension are unknown although there are predisposing factors such as kidney disorders, adrenal tumors, aging, medications and drug use. Herbs have been used for centuries in treating high blood pressure and along with healthy diet and regular exercise; they may be integrated to create a comprehensive treatment plan for hypertension. Despite it being more popular as an aphrodisiac, more and more people are using Damiana herb for high blood pressure. The shrub contains specific bioactive components that can alleviate the symptoms of hypertension.
Damiana leaves, the medicinal part of the plant, contain 0.2 -0.9 % essential oil, 8% soft resin, 6% hard resin, 3.5% tannin and 6% starch. The essential oil is made up of nearly half monoterpenes (pinene, thymol), also nearly half sesquiterpenes (guajan derivaritives, and other similar components). Damiana leaves have been known to effectively lower blood pressure due to mild diuretic properties. It contains a small amount of caffeine, which is a known natural diuretic. With its diuretic property, it helps the body get rid of unnecessary water and salt through urination. By eliminating salt and fluid in the system, the heart makes it easier to pump blood and eventually, lower blood pressure.
Another reason why it is recommended to use Damiana herb for blood pressure is its abundant sesquiterpene content. Based on research, the plant’s essential oil can cause relaxation on the blood vessels (vasorelaxant), which means that it can reduce the tension in the walls of blood vessels, allowing a much smoother blood flow. The component in sesquiterpene called caryophyllene oxide is responsible for this effect.
Yet, another interesting component in Damiana is apigenin, a bioflavonoid commonly found in certain leafy plants and vegetables. Studies show the huge contributions of this flavonoid in lowering the blood pressure by acting as a calcium channel blocker, impeding intracellular calcium, thus causing dilation and relaxation of vessel walls for a smooth flow of blood. In another research, it claims that consuming herbs rich in flavonoids, including apigenin, may play a role in preventing atherosclerosis. Hypertension is one of the primary causes of atherosclerosis, where fatty deposits build up in the artery wall linings. These fatty deposits are called plaques, which calcify and thicken resulting to narrowing of the blood vessels to the point of restricting blood flow. In this case, the role of apigenin is to prevent in vitro low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. By preventing oxidation of LDL, commonly known as bad cholesterol, it can also prevent its buildup in the linings of artery walls.
Taking Damiana herb for high blood pressure offers numerous health benefits, not only for the heart but also for other parts of the body. However, if you are taking maintenance drugs for hypertension, make sure to consult first your primary health care provider before taking any herbal remedies for high blood pressure.